The key to dressing in the mountains is to use the removable layer principle; a base layer of wicking material, a mid layer with fleece or duvet and outer waterproof shell. There is, however, no one way to dress when you are in the mountains, you should bring the kit you usually wear when ski-touring at home and bear in mind that the weather can vary from extremely cold, especially on Mt Elbrus, storms, rain and wind to very hot burning sun. You should not need to use all the foul weather protection listed below. However it is of course imperative that you bring it all.
We have divided our equipment list into two categories, essential and optional. If you are coming with a companion, some of the list below can be shared between you. If you have considerable experience of mountain walking and ski-touring you will probably have your own list and will make additions or deletions to this one. The list is of what you will need to bring for walking. It does not include the smarter clothes you will need when not in the mountains.
Being suitably equipped is perhaps the most important ingredient contributing towards your safety, comfort and enjoyment of the trip. Reflect carefully as to what you will need. Taking too much gear just in case is not recommended, but neither is taking too little. If you have any hesitation, questions, or need advice, please ask.
- Sleeping bag (3/4 season) and sleeping mat
- Sheet liner
- Good waterproofs, (cagoule&trousers)
- Ski-touring boots
- Ski-touring or alpine skis if you plan to carry your skis
- Skins (not necessary if you plan to carry your skis)
- Telescopic ski sticks
- Thin shirt (long sleeved)
- Thick shirt (long sleeved)
- Trousers/track suit bottoms + Long Johns
- Fleece and/or Duvet Jacket
- 1 thick sweater
- 2/3 pear of heavy socks
- Cotton socks
- Sun hat
- Warm hat
- Something to wear in bed – accommodation is shared
- A lightweight harness + 4 karabiners (two of them screw-gate)
- Crampons in case of some icy sections on Elbrus slopes
- Avalanche transceiver
- Avalanche Probe
- Water Bottles 1L
- Camera and film
- Swiss army knife
- Binoculars (lightweight)
- Writing material/notebook
- Spare batteries/bulb
- Towel and toilet articles
- Sun cream and lipsalve
- Toilet paper/tissues
- Personal first aid/sewing kit
This is the most important item of your equipment on a holiday. Discovering that a pair of boots is not suitable can ruin a holiday. Your boots should be made for ski-mountaineering, should fit comfortably and be well broken in. It is important that there is enough room for your toes otherwise painful bruising can occur on descents.
Good solid ski-mountaineering boots of a type, similar to Scarpa are the minimum required. No technical climbing is involved, although you will encounter some steep sections, ski-touring crampons suffice. Thick wool socks provide cushioning and reduce the risk of blisters through dampness. Two pairs of socks, the inner pair of loop-stitch knit, can be very effective.
A selection of the most suitable socks will not only add immeasurably to your overall well-being on touring, but more essentially protect your feet with proper cushioning and padding. You will need two or three pairs of outer socks; this will ensure that you will always have a fresh pair to wear.
You should bring a rucksack of about 60-70l capacity in which to carry your personal belongings including sleeping bag and mat. Try not to carry too much to reduce your enjoyment of the trip but you will need to carry overnight gear and a set of spare clothes. This could be used as a day sack on the climb up Elbrus when you only need to carry your day's requirements. Otherwise you may wish to have a smaller one on Elbrus. It should still be strong and with a waist belt for good distribution of weight during the hardest day of the trip.
There are facilities for you to leave unnecessary items at the hotel while on the Elbrus sections.
It is worthwhile bringing head cover for both sun and cold. On Elbrus it will be very cold.
Full waterproofs are essential: jacket and trousers Mountain weather is variable. In the valleys it is possible for daytime temperatures to rise to +10-15C. On Elbrus the conditions can be Arctic. Snow could be encountered at any time although this is generally the drier side of the Caucasus. Goretex, or similar, is good for the reason that it keeps you drier by allowing a passage of air through the fabric, preventing condensation on the inside that would otherwise make you wet. A waterproof doubles up usefully as a windproof especially on Elbrus where the winds can be bitter.
It is necessary to have warm layers when you stop walking and for the ascent of Elbrus. Conditions on Elbrus can be Arctic especially with the wind-chill factor taken into account.
A 3/4 season should be adequate. An insulation mat is essential.
Camera and film - carry this as hand luggage and avoid having it X-rayed. Bring all film with you from home. Umbrella - this can double as a sunshade. Binoculars. Plastic Bags (self-seal) in various sizes to protect photographic equipment. Safety pins. Matches/lighter. Boot cleaning kit. Hand cream. Fine nylon cord for washing line. Small metal mirror. Playing cards/games. Money belt. Neck wallet. Antiseptic wipes. It is virtually impossible to buy sweets and snacks when you are on trek in Russia, it is a good idea to bring a small supply to boost your energy levels when necessary.
We recommend you bring a small supply of first aid items for personal use. If a blister develops or you have a headache, it could be a little while before the First Aid box is located and you reach it, or it reaches you. A modest and sensible first aid kit based on the list below plus any special medications you may need, will suffice.
- Band-Aids Micropore
- Aspirin for mild pain relief
- Dioralyte Safety pins
- Throat lozenges
- Sunburn/glacier cream
- Lomotil/Imodium for diarrhea
- Dextrose/glucose-based sweets
- Antiseptic cream
- 1x4" crepe bandage
- Water purification for your water canteen
- Small unbreakable leakproof bottle of disinfectant
- Flavoring to enhance taste of sterilized water
All medicines should be in plastic containers with screw-on-lids.